Speakout!

December 18, 2005

ISSUE: -- The proposal for joint civilian-military use of an airfield at Aberdeen Proving Ground is close to becoming a reality as a key feasibility study nears completion and officials explore development options for the oft-derailed project.

For nearly 20 years, the Army has considered opening Phillips Army Airfield - its 10,000-foot runway is one of the longest on the East Coast - to civilian and commercial traffic.

The new interest in the project is likely to renew concerns, which include security, noise, air traffic and whether APG needs such enhancements given that the base was a big winner in the recent base realignment and consolidation program.

What do you think about the plan to develop the airstrip for joint civilian and military use?

Serious issues to consider

The objective, that whatever happens on or near Phillips Army Airfield must not interfere with the mission of the proving ground and its tenants, is appropriate and very important. Included in this are the following:

Compatibility with a high-sustained-speed automotive test track required for Aberdeen Test Center to remain the premier automotive test site for the Department of Defense;

Retention of security, keeping the airfield "behind the fence" for consistency with the research and development mission of APG;

Preservation of restricted air space, which is very important to Aberdeen Test Center's mission.

No data of income that APG can expect from the lease arrangement has been made public. The income should at least cover the cost to operate and maintain the airfield.

Jim Kelton Aberdeen

Real problems loom for city, APG

I live in Aberdeen, and I work at Aberdeen Proving Ground, and I am totally opposed to the proposal for joint use of the airfield at APG.

The lack of information provided to citizens casts a dark shadow over this proposal. Sensitive test schedules at APG could be needlessly disrupted by the increase in nonmilitary air traffic. The quality of life for the citizens of Aberdeen will be diminished by increases in air, noise and water pollution - we already carry a sizable burden in this regard.

The Aberdeen city government has a mission to provide adequate basic services to residents: drinkable water, adequate storm drains, sidewalks and parks, to name a few. "Joint" use of the airfield? Does the city even own a plane?

Karen Heavey Aberdeen

Use airfield to back APG, county growth

As a contractor and as a resident of Harford County, I fully support joint use of the Phillips Army Airfield. With the new jobs coming from Fort Monmouth, N.J., and with the downsizing of the military personnel on APG, I think we should focus on utilizing the already established airfield to both support our efforts at APG as and boost the economy of the rapidly growing county. There are many people who fear change, but changes are coming, and the best we can do is help them take shape.

Aaron Begunich Aberdeen Test Center, APG

We want your opinions

ISSUE:

A debate has arisen about what some call the troubling secularization of Christmas with the use of terms such as "holiday tree" instead of "Christmas tree," and the greeting "Happy Holidays" instead of "Merry Christmas." Others say such concerns are overreaction and that Christmas is alive and well no matter what phraseology comes into vogue.

YOUR VIEW:

Do you favor "Happy Holidays" or "Merry Christmas" and why? Tell us what you think. Send e-mail responses by Thursday to harford.speakout@baltsun.com. A selection of responses will be published next Sunday. Please keep your responses short and include your name, address and telephone number. Addresses and phone numbers will not be published.

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